More Prisoners Behind Bars: Good Or Bad?

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Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson is tough on criminals.

"Putting people in the penitentiary because they continue to commit crime, after crime, after crime. I don’t apologize for that," says Larson.

Nor does the Larson apologize for the findings of the Pew Report, just released today. The report which recorded crime statistics nationwide says Kentucky put more additional people in jail in 2007 than any other state.

That's an accomplishment to Larson. Since 1999, he and his staff have made an effort to get repeat offenders off the street. The tally to date is around 2,900.

"That group, that twenty-nine hundred has in its history 41,127 prior criminal convictions, not crimes, convictions," says Larson.

Larson says he's fairly confident that the majority of the additional prisoners jailed last year, are known criminals, that are now off the streets.

But not everyone sees the report Larson's way. Some, including the governor, see more dollars signs when they see more prisoners.

Governor Beshear's spokeswoman Vicki Glass released the following statement today in light of the Pew Report:

"Governor Beshear plans to create a group to review the commonwealth's penal code, sentencing guidelines and related matters to determine if we can find appropriate alternatives to incarceration under certain circumstances. We want offenders to receive the appropriate punishment and protect our public while also identifying alternatives to incarceration."

What does Ray Larson say to ideas like that?

"The fundamental or primary purpose of government is to do everything we can to guarantee the safety of the public," Larson added, "If we don't feel safe, we really don't have anything."

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